HD-PLC Alliance

HD-PLC Test House:HD-PLC applications for security, energy saving, and Smart Grid.

The HD-PLC Test House displays practical applications of high speed electrical networks.

The HD-PLC Test House displays practical applications of high speed electrical networks.

As HD-PLC continues to progress toward becoming an international standard, various applications are appearing that are taking advantage of its speed and ease of use. Such applications can be experienced firsthand at the HD-PLC Test House. Home appliances and other household items using HD-PLC are displayed with real life system examples. This is also a testing site for manufacturers developing HD-PLC equipment, and many developers from around the world come for verification testing. Here we will introduce what is displayed in the test house, while discussing how HD-PLC will become a part of households and affect our everyday lives.
HD-PLC is known for its high speed and ease of use. In an example that takes full advantage of these qualities, a network camera and a TV have been set up. Both the network camera and the TV are connected to electrical outlets via HD-PLC adaptors. Real time images are then sent through the network established via the house's electrical wiring. The advantage here is that there is no need for physical wiring between devices. Nor is there a need to set up a wireless network or worry about not being in range of the wireless signal.

On the outside of the Test House, there are 4 network cameras, including one next to the door bell, another under the eaves, facing the front yard, and 2 in the carport. There is also a camera in the electric car, as well as in the tatami-floored Japanese style room, for a total of 6 cameras. The images from these cameras can be viewed on the TVs in the living room and tatami room via the electrical network. If there is a visitor at the front door ringing the doorbell, a small window showing the visitor will pop up on the TV screen, while you are watching TV. A flip of the remote will allow the viewer to switch between the six network cameras, and camera images can be automatically recorded to a HDD recorder, and then later played back by selecting them from a list. There is an electric car at the Test House with a mounted camera, which is connected to the network through the vehicle's recharging cable. At the Test House, only a camera image from the vehicle can be viewed, however through anHD-PLC network other data can be sent and received. One potential application is that content such as music or car navigation data from a media server in the house can be transferred to the vehicle.

Layout of the HD-PLC Test House

Layout of the HD-PLC Test House
Exterior cameras and TVs inside the house are connected by the HD-PLC network. The electric vehicle at the lower right in the layout can send images from the embedded camera in the car through the recharging cable.

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Making energy ‘Visible’ Contributes to Energy Savings

By making energy 'visible', HD-PLC technology provides a concrete solution to realizing a 'Green Ubiquitous' society, a key tenet of HD-PLC development. An electric meter and HD-PLC adaptor are connected to a device to measure power consumption . That data is then sent over the HD-PLC network to a PC, where the collected data can be viewed. Normally, an electric meter for a device would need to be directly connected to the PC, but with HD-PLC, multiple devices can be monitored in any location and without any extra cables. At the Test House, the distribution panel, microwave oven, and air conditioner each have an electric power meter and HD-PLC adaptor attached. Through the PC in the living room, power consumption can be monitored on the TV in real time. This data can also be uploaded over the internet server so that power usage can be monitored from outside the Test House. Currently on display is a prototype of an HD-PLC adaptor with integrated electric power meter for developers to test out its usability.

Power usage inside the house is monitored by power meters through HD-PLC adaptors and displayed on the living room TV in real time.

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Functional Testing using Two Types of Electric Wiring

The HD-PLC Test House serves as a test site to perform functional testing for manufacturers developing HD-PLC products. All products with the HD-PLC logo are guaranteed to connect with each other after having passed various tests performed at the Test House.

Two types of distribution boards and electrical wiring are set up at the Test House to perform functional tests using different types of electrical wiring.

There are two ways to connect to each electrical outlet; connection in a chain (upper right) and connections bundled in parallel (lower left). The electrical wiring in the Test House uses both types.

There are two types of electric wiring for performing functional tests at the Test House. Generally, there are two types of electrical wiring inside a home: the first type connects each electrical plug from the distribution board in a chain, and the second type uses a joint box which binds multiple electrical plugs, connecting them like a tree. Each type has its own characteristics. With the first type, there is a chance that if an electrical plug is too far from the distribution board, the transmission performance necessary to operate the equipment will not be sufficient. Newer homes and apartments most likely are built using the second type. At the Test House, it is necessary to test if products under development will actually function with either type of wiring. As products are tested using both types of electrical wiring, there are two types of distribution boards, each with two types of electrical outlets.

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A Testing Environment Compatible with Independent ISP Services

A compatibility testing environment is set up on the 2nd floor of the Test House. Interoperability testing, which is particularly important, is carried out by connecting the product to be tested to a reference device to perform connection and transmission testing using specification standards of HD-PLC. As some devices under development may not yet be properly shielded from signal noise, they are placed in an isolating box for the tests.
Broadband internet service providers require certain types of connections to the internet to provide subscribers with contents such as on-demand video or IP phone. Contracts were signed with various internet service providers to bring their networks into the Test House. HD-PLC technology can be tested with each ISP by switching between each service's line and modem to test if HD-PLC can provide the speed required for each service. This is especially effective when testing set top boxes with built-in PLC adaptors that are under development.

This is the testing facility to check device interoperability. Equipment under development is placed in a box to shield out noise, and it is tested to check if it can perform at HD-PLC standards

It is not realistic for manufacturers prepare their own testing environments solely for HD-PLC. The HD-PLC Alliance provides the opportunity for makers to use testing facilities such as these. The HD-PLC Alliance works with Panasonic System Networks Co., Ltd. (formerly Panasonic Communications Co., Ltd.) to provide this support.

Lines from major ISPs have been set up in order to test how well they work with HD-PLC technology.

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Establishing a Smart Grid Testing Environment

Recently, smart grids have become a hot topic, and at the Test House, PLC-enabled smart grid testing is underway. As a testing environment, the latest electricity technologies that supply and consume electricity have been introduced, such as solar panels for electricity generation and an electric vehicle. This is combined with the home network system to visualize electricity use. Furthermore, outside the Test House two utility poles have been installed to test factors for HD-PLC use outdoors, such as energy radiation*1.

Furthermore, by placing PLC modems on the utility poles, various smart grid simulations can be performed in regards to the 'last yard' of connectivity from the HAN (Home Area Network) to the power grid when using PLC, such as the testing of PLC transmission between utility poles over low-voltage lines, the gathering of energy radiation data, and the running of power lines from the utility poles to the Test House. Such smart grid testing incorporating HD-PLC technology has gained a great deal of attention from power utility company representatives that have visited the Test House. Such activities have opened the doors to preliminary testing of smart grid devices for international markets.

*1: Within Japan, PLC is currently limited to indoor use only. The permit for outdoor use of PLC is required for outdoor testing, and it can be performed with the approval of the experimental laboratories of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

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